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Gov. signs bills allocating funds for arts school

Following two additional bill signings by Gov. Ronnie Musgrove,all the legislative pieces to allow the Mississippi School of theArts to open in August are now in place, officials said.

The final piece came Tuesday as Musgrove approved House Bill742. The legislation includes a provision to allow schools like MSAto order textbooks and equipment before the end of the state fiscalyear in June so that they can arrive in time for the opening.

“It’s a wonderful day for the gifted and talented students ofthe state of Mississippi,” said Jennifer Jackson, MSA director ofmarketing and development.

The early procurement action followed Musgrove’s weekend signingof Senate Bill 2988, a state bond bill that includes $1 million toallow MSA to purchase needed start-up and other equipment. Thegovernor last week signed a bill authorizing $2 million inoperating funds for the school.

Dist. 92 Rep. Dr. Jim Barnett said he was pleased to see allthree bills signed.

“We’re looking forward to the first class coming in August,”Barnett said. “It will be a great thing for the state ofMississippi and this area.”

Barnett and Jackson expressed appreciation to area lawmakers andthose around the state for their support of the school.

“The state of Mississippi will reap the benefits of the schoolfor many years to come,” Barnett said.

Approximately 90 high school juniors will attend the school inthe first year and study either theater, music or visual arts.School officials said at least 60 students will live in the nowunder-construction Student Life Center while others will be able tocommute.

Students auditions were held earlier this month. Jackson saidthe student selection process is winding down.

“Students should be notified this week,” Jackson said.

Jackson said an open house for student applicants and theirparents is planned for Sunday at 2 p.m.

“We’re looking forward to having them here,” Jackson said.

Jackson said there is still work to be done in getting theschool prepared to open, but word of the bill signings waswonderful news.

“We’ll be celebrating today and steadily working to ready forthe students,” Jackson said.